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It sounds simple enough: just say 'NO', but it isn't always that easy.

I have a "friend" that is easily intrigued, but also easily bored. He commits to projects out of genuine interest and curiosity, but if they take too long to complete (for whatever reason) he just gets bored, puts it off, and eventually commit to something else (sometimes he seeks these projects out, sometimes he's solicited). The problem is some of those projects involve deliverables to others, so to quit them would leave those others holding the bag.

Of course, this pattern continues and when he decides he should work on one of those projects to finally get it off his plate, all he can think about is the tons of others projects that are half done.

How can he take back control of his time?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I had a similar problem, and I decided the Fall of 2013 would be the semester of "No". I said no to everything and even quit a lot of other projects. I found upfront honesty to be key. ie, "I'm no longer going to work on this project because I'm over committed."

There were some things I quit that I felt bad about, but over all there is less stress in my life and I'm happier. I got the idea after reading this article on

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Another great approach which may be useful is to commit to large projects only one at a time. It's not about saying "NO", it's more about focusing and putting all that's needed into finishing something first.

I started to do that myself seeing that I was in a similar situation with my own hobbies and personal projects -- I just started them all and switched to something new when I was bored or not inspired to continue with it. ("Anyway, it's only for me", I justified.) But seeing everything unfinished is demotivating.

In a article somewhere I read this advice that helped me trough: give importance to your project and hobbies. When you commit to something, do it from start to finish. Treat it as if it was another job, and don't get distracted from it until you're done.

This has helped me finish with some pending stuff and has boosted my confidence in my ability to achieve my goals.

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